Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Challenges of Serving all Communities

      Technology in education has various levels of implementation, and degrees of ease of use. For example, students are the easiest to teach how to use any given piece of technology, mostly because their culture is embedded with technology. Most students in  a classroom have various online accounts, such as Facebook, Google plus, Twitter, Instagram, tumblr, or Grooveshark. They know how to navigate the internet, they are willing to try new programs and can learn them quickly. Working with members of the educational community presents degrees of challenges. While most of the education community would agree that teaching and using technology has value, there are mixed emotions on the level and the type of technology tools that should be integration. New teachers are receiving some training about what tools to use in the classroom and how to incorporate technology (Cohen, 2007). This training provides some basic level of understanding and use of technology with students. Teachers who have gone through training programs prior to this change sometimes show a bit more resistance to change. Many feel as though they have discovered what works well, and the way they teach is working and have a difficult time accepting and implementing technology (Morehead, 2005).  School administration pushes the use of technology because of 21st century initiatives and pressure. They may have the attitude that technology in the classroom is an important tool, but may lack the understanding of how to best incorporate technology. Administrators should walk the walk, meaning they should model good use of technology. An administrator who is lacking skills and is attempting to promote technology may not have the impact they desire. The school board, and the general public are often somewhat removed from the daily education environment. They may feel as though they understand and use technology, but may have misconceptions about how it should be used in education. These misconceptions lead to the lack of acceptance of the use of technology to enhance education. In my experience many of the hesitations around technology result from the fear of cyber-bullying, poor awareness of digital citizenship and digital footprint.

     When working with reluctant teachers, hesitant school board members, and parents. It is important to have data and realistic comparisons to illustrate how technology can enhance education. Similarly, it is important to be able to model good use of technology to enhance a presentation, or training session. Parents and school board members are the key players in any public school. They require appropriate training and understanding of the technology tools to be able to make unbiased decisions about approving technology integration into schools. For example, many schools block the use of social networking. The assumption is that these tools are used for gossiping and bullying. While that may occur in a "private" session, the same type of bullying and harassing occurs in the hallways, on the school bus, in the locker rooms, and in the classroom. The difficulty with cyber-bullying is tracking, reporting, and keeping tabs on students in these
networking sites where they have free reign. In a controlled setting, like the use of Google plus in a monitored school Google domain, the students know that teachers are a part of the community, and are monitoring behavior. Similarly this opens doors for other teaching moments where students can learn how to be appropriate digital citizens. Parents and school board members have to be taught how these tools work, how they are monitored and controlled. They should also be included in the network deployment. For example, a school with a Google domain should create accounts for each of the school board members. If feasible, parents should also be given the opportunity to obtain an account within the domain. This inclusion may help to relieve some of the reluctance to using some tools. This article helps to describe the benefits of school community inclusion.

    The best way to eliminate misconceptions, and assumptions is to provide appropriate education to all communities members to truly understand how the tools work, why they are being used, and how they can enhance education. The school community also needs appropriate time to allot for training and collaboration about the best use or best practice of technology integration.


Cohen, M. T., Pelligrino, J. W., Schmidt, D. A., & Schultz, S. (2007). Sustaining technology integration in teacher education. Action in Teacher Education29(3), 75-87. Retrieved from

Morehead, P., & LaBeau, B. (2005). The continuing challenges of technology integration for teachers. Essays in Education15, 120-127. Retrieved from


  1. “You make some great points. But, lets imagine a bit. I'll be "that" teacher who resists technology. How would you encourage, or teach me that technology can be easy to use and can enhance learning, and provide differentiated opportunities? Similarly, I'll be "that" parent who thinks technology has no place in school. How do you convince me that technology is helpful and can enrich education? I brought up a similar idea that data will solve all. But, numbers and stats may not solve all. How can we really prove that these tools are valuable?”

    As you mentioned Mike, “Administrators should walk the walk”. As people of action, leaders should recognize that words alone will not motivate staff members to use technology. An effective leader empowers each educator by instilling technology to discover the best use of it. Educational leaders witness more success with helping colleagues to become technology literate if they plan to side step the human factors-fear and frustration. All too often leaders bring the challenge for new technology use but mistakenly introduce it as some professional homework for teachers to master. Just as leaders adapt to change and reconfigure mindsets accordingly, teachers must also be shown that they can be in control and not adversely affected by it. By exemplifying “a high touch caring approach to introduce change”, a leader will see more enduring success and is steps closer to accomplishing the vision (Polka, 2000). The combination of data and information may not necessarily advance our knowledge; however, using information and technology can collectively develop knowledge to gain insights into the realm of wisdom (Mendis, 2005).

    Mendis, Patrick. (2005) “Leadership Aspects of Integrated Learning with
    Technology in Democratic Environments.” Academic Leadership: (vol.1(2):

    Polka, Walter S. (April 2000): “High Tech, High Touch.” School Administrator1-7.

  2. I think what is so difficult to show is the proof that using technology in the classroom is actually increasing test scores. It is not as easy as it sounds and often times all people want to go by are how the students are doing on the "tests". Integrating technology is so much more. It is about creativity and collaboration as this article mentions, The Data Doesn't Prove That Technology Increases Student Learning . What is important is the learning. I do agree with you when you say that administrators should also be the ones working and embracing technology use. It always comes from the top down and if a district is not top heavy with how technology could improve the learning experience for students, it will be much more of an uphill battle for the educators who truly embrace technology integration.

    I could not agree more with the teaching of digital citizenship and wanting to teach not only the students, but also teaching the community. What happens in many districts is the digital citizenship night is publicized and the same 20 parents show up. Some times the message that is also presented is the "stranger danger" message, which then defeats the purpose of the entire meeting.

    It is definitely a complicated problem with no one magical answer.

    1. I have seen many schools in my area adopt the use of Facebook and Google plus as a means to connect and communicate with parents. I am in a parent group for my children's school on Facebook. It is a nice way to stay informed. Developing something like that, and sending out information regarding digital citizenship might be a vehicle to reach those 20 and maybe 1 more. In my school district, I've noticed that many parents have multiple jobs or work very different hours, and it is difficult for them to attend evening events. If we can truly embrace the social networking we might be able to establish more connection with parents.

  3. It is important for administrators to lead by example. The school that I teach at is currently working to get all teachers onboard with using Google apps. Our administrators have started using Google in a collaborative manner to hopefully inspire teachers to do the same in their classrooms. For example, during a staff meeting, we may break out into small groups to work on something, and all groups have to share their findings in a collaborative document. We have done similar collaborative activities on PD days.

    1. That is a fantastic way to model the use of Google. My administrators are starting to shift gears to arrive at that point. We still have lots of pen and paper activities in our PD days, faculty meetings, etc, but it's getting better. I've discovered that many people have difficulty letting go of msword. They still type something in word then upload it to Google docs, instead of just starting in Google. Again, with appropriate modeling, and use that will come.

    2. I tried to get members of a committee I am on at school to use Google Docs to collaborate on a data list we were creating. It was painful! They had trouble getting into Drive, said they needed a password, although I set the sharing as login not needed. Unfortunately, for that effort, we already have a share drive where we can collaborate on Word docs, so they don't see the point of using Google Drive. Also, what if Google discontinues Drive, like they did with Reader and iGoogle? The teachers will balk if they learn a new technology and then it goes away.

  4. Mike I love the idea of having board members be part of the google network if it is utilized by the district. My district uses a Google network and from what I can see our board members are not part of that network. That makes no sense what so ever. Certain departments are attempting to use various forms of technology to communicate with other schools for professional development and google docs is an example of that. The teachers fight it because it is different. At the school level we do however utilize the technology. I guess change is SLOW.